Rabbi Accused of Setting Rival’s House on Fire |:| Green-Eyed Monster Cometh?

You see this? I leave you alone for one second, NYC, and you’ve got rabbis allegedly burning ex-members of their congregation who jumped ship for another temple.

From Gothamist:

“The Rockland County man who has been hospitalized with third-degree burns over half his body following a crazy arson attempt last month has filed an $18 million lawsuit against the powerful local rabbi, whom he accuses of ordering the attack on his house. You may recall that Aron Rottenberg and his family have been subjected to violence ever since they left the village’s main synagogue to worship at Friedwald Nursing Home, instead of at the synagogue in town where Grand Rabbi David Twersky presides. And if you leave Twersky’s fold for a rival flock, you’d better watch out for wolves, the lawsuit alleges.”

According to Rottenberg’s family as per TrueCrimeReport.com, the final blow came when Rottenberg decided to start a prayer group without the Twersky’s approval.

Now, having just gotten back from Boulder, Co, where the Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi-(AKA “Reb Zalman”)-inspired Jewish Renewal community rules the roost complete with women in yarmulkes speaking their mind (gasp!) and rainbow-patterned tallits blowing in the wind, it’s hard to imagine a rabbi being such a micro-manager so as to want to kill someone!

Reb Zalman and Ram Dass. Photo by Joan Halifax (!) That's a lot of big spiritual names on this pic.

Truth be told, however, it wasn’t actually the rabbi who did the fire setting, but rather an 18-year-old boy who lives with the rabbi and was apparently caught soaking Rottenberg’s residence with liquid that goes boom when lit. However, according to Michael Sussman, attorney to the accuser,

“Anyone who knows anything about the community knows that there’s no way he would have done this on his own.”

Obviously, I have no idea who did what and based on what direction, but I can’t help but think this misguided little 18-year-old with nothing better to do than burn down people’s homes is gonna take the fall for this one.

Meanwhile, Rottenberg is suing for the very spiritual sum of $18 million

“selected to ease Rottenberg’s situation and for its meaning in Judaism…. Giving money in multiples of 18 is common during special occasions like births and bar mitzvahs,” reports LoHud.com.

Eighteen-year-old boy lights a house on fire and almost kills it’s residence, and a lawsuit for $18 million follows suit? That’s a lot of spiritual digits!

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